Sunday, September 21, 2008

This is my entry for Novel Food. It is from War and Peace by Tolstoy. Natasha and her brother have been out hunting all day long and go to visit their Uncle where they are given a feast of simple but delicious food. Its one of those days that stays with you your whole life. I would like to present you with the whole feast but I settled for biscuits (her's were rye) apples and honey in a comb.

Inside, the house, with boarded, unplastered walls, was not very clean; there was nothing to show that the chief aim of the persons living in it was the removal of every spot, yet there were not signs of neglect. There was a smell of fresh apples in the entry, and the walls were hung with foxskins and wolfskins.

The uncle led his guests through the vestibule into a little hall with a folding-table and red chairs, then into a drawing-room with a round birchwood table and a sofa, and then into his study, with a ragged sofa, a threadbare carpet, and portraits of Suvorov, of his father and mother, and of himself in military uniform. The study smelt strongly of tobacco and dogs. In the study the uncle asked his guests to sit down and make themselves at home, and he left them. Rugay came in, his back still covered with mud, and lay on the sofa, cleaning himself with his tongue and his teeth. There was a corridor leading from the study, and in it they could see a screen with ragged curtains. Behind the screen they heard feminine laughter and whispering. Natasha, Nikolay, and Petya took off their wraps and sat down on the sofa. Petya leaned on his arm and fell asleep at once; Natasha and Nikolay sat without speaking. Their faces were burning; they were very hungry and very cheerful. They looked at one another—now that the hunt was over and they were indoors, Nikolay did not feel called upon to show his masculine superiority over his sister. Natasha winked at her brother; and they could neither of them restrain themselves long, and broke into a ringing laugh before they had time to invent a pretext for their mirth.

After a brief interval, the uncle came in wearing a Cossack coat, blue breeches, and little top-boots. And this very costume, at which Natasha had looked with surprise and amusement when the uncle wore it at Otradnoe, seemed to her now the right costume here, and in no way inferior to frock coats or ordinary jackets. The uncle, too, was in good spirits; far from feeling mortified at the laughter of the brother and sister (he was incapable of imagining that they could be laughing at his mode of life), he joined in their causeless mirth himself.

"Well, this young countess here—forward, quick march!—I have never seen her like!" he said, giving a long pipe to Rostov, while with a practised motion of three fingers he filled another—a short broken one—for himself.

"She's been in the saddle all day—something for a man to boast of—and she's just as fresh as if nothing had happened!"

Soon the door was opened obviously, from the sound, by a barefoot servant-girl, and a stout, red-cheeked, handsome woman of about forty, with a double chin and full red lips, walked in, with a big tray in her hands. With hospitable dignity and cordiality in her eyes and in every gesture, she looked round at the guests, and with a genial smile bowed to them respectfully.

In spite of her exceptional stoutness, which made her hold her head flung back, while her bosom and all her portly person was thrust forward, this woman (the uncle's housekeeper) stepped with extreme lightness. She went to the table, put the tray down, and deftly with her plump, white hands set the bottles and dishes on the table. When she had finished this task she went away, standing for a moment in the doorway with a smile on her face. "Here I am—I am she! Now do you understand the uncle?" her appearance had said to Rostov. Who could fail to understand? Not Nikolay only, but even Natasha understood the uncle now and the significance of his knitted brows, and the happy, complacent smile, which puckered his lips as Anisya Fyodorovna came in. On the tray there were liqueurs, herb-brandy, mushrooms, biscuits of rye flour made with buttermilk, honey in the comb, foaming mead made from honey, apples, nuts raw and nuts baked, and nuts preserved in honey. Then Anisya Fyodorovna brought in preserves made with honey and with sugar, and ham and a chicken that had just been roasted.

All these delicacies were of Anisya Fyodorovna's preparing, cooking or preserving. All seemed to smell and taste, as it were, of Anisya Fyodorovna. All seemed to recall her buxomness, cleanliness, whiteness, and cordial smile.

"A little of this, please, little countess," she kept saying, as she handed Natasha first one thing, then another. Natasha ate of everything, and it seemed to her that such buttermilk biscuits, such delicious preserves, such nuts in honey, such a chicken, she had never seen nor tasted anywhere. Anisya Fyodorovna withdrew. Rostov and the uncle, as they sipped cherry brandy after supper, talked of hunts past and to come, of Rugay and Ilagin's dogs. Natasha sat upright on the sofa, listening with sparkling eyes. She tried several times to waken Petya, and make him eat something, but he made incoherent replies, evidently in his sleep. Natasha felt so gay, so well content in these new surroundings, that her only fear was that the trap would come too soon for her. After a silence had chanced to fall upon them, as almost always happens when any one receives friends for the first time in his own house, the uncle said, in response to the thought in his guests' minds:

"Yes, so you see how I am finishing my days.… One dies—forward, quick march!—nothing is left. So why sin!"

Here's my recipe for biscuits. Its from Bill Neal's Biscuits, Spoonbread,
and Sweet Potato Pie.

Buttermilk biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 tablespoons chilled butter
1 cup buttermilk

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the butter
and work it all through the flour with your fingertips.
Add the buttermilk and stir vigorously until the dough forms
a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured
surface. Knead lightly for 10 strokes. Pat the dough
out to about 8x7x1/4 inch rectabgle. Cut into 2 inch
rounds. Place on a baking sheet and bake in an oven 500F
for 8 minutes until lightly browned.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Dog Ate My...

Every year for my husband's birthday I make him a cassata.
Its based on his aunt's cassata's filling and a recipe
for chocolate icing that I found in a Time-Life Italian cookbook.
Its actually the best thing I make.
It takes forever to do.
Anyhow, I had it all made
and resting in the refrigerator.
My husband and I went out to get him
a present. I come back and...

Well this is my dog Blizzard.

This is what the cake is supposed to look like.

We came home and the refrigerator door was open
and a big piece of the cake was missing.
Please excuse the messy fridge.

Needless to say I was pretty upset.
Also, chocolate is very bad for dogs.
However, he didn't get sick.

I planned to blog about this cake but not under
these circumstances.

To make the cake you need a spongecake.
I use the one from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.

Separate 5 eggs. Beat the whites
until they stand up in soft peaks. Beat in a tablespoon
at a time 1/4 sugar.

Without washing the beaters,
beat the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon lemon
juice until thick and lemon colored. Add 3/4
cups sugar gradually. Pour over the whites and fold
in gently. Sift together 1 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Gently fold flour mixture into the egg mixture.
Pour into 2 nine inch cake pans lined with
parchment paper and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

Let cool and slice in half horizontally.

For the filing.

2 pounds of ricotta
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup orange flavor liqueur (or any flavor you like)
1/4 cup finely chopped chocolate
1/4 cup candied fruit (I use candied grapefruit peel that I make
at christmas)

Beat ricotta till nice and smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Assemble the cake. Take one later of the cake. Sprinkle
with liqueur put in 1/3 of ricotta mixture.
Put cake layer on top of that. Sprinkle with
liqueur. Put 1/3 of ricotta mixture. Another piece of cake.
SPrinkle, ricotta, add the lid.

I stick bamboo skewers in the cake to stabilize it.
Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refridgerator
for 1 day!!!

Make the icing:
Over a double boiler melt 12 oz
semisweet chocolate. Add 2/3 cup
very strong coffee. When nicely melted,
turn off the heat and stir in a tablespoon
at a time 2 sticks unsalted butter.
When all done put in the fridge
to let it harden up. It takes a while
for it to become spreadable. Check it
out every so often and when its good
decorate your cake. The icing is like a
truffle filling. Really yummy.
The cake does well to rest for a while.

The Glass Family Gets Some Ice Cream

This is my entry for Novel Food. It comes from
Seymour an Introduction by J.D. Salinger.
Here we meet Buddy on his way to the
drugstore to buy some ice cream. This must
have taken place in the 1930s. Since there
were seven Glass children and they were buying
Louis Sherry ice cream it must have been a

It's an Anecdote, sink me, but I'll let it rip: At about nine, I had the very pleasant notion that I was the Fastest Boy Runner in the World. It's the kind of queer, basically extracurricular conceit, I'm inclined to add, that dies hard, and even today, at a super-sedentary forty, I can picture myself, in street clothes, whisking past a series of distinguished but hard-breathing Olympic milers and waving to them, amiably, without a trace of condescension. Anyway, one beautiful spring evening when we were still living over on Riverside Drive, Bessie sent me to the drugstore for a couple of quarts of ice cream. I came out of the building at that very same magical quarter hour described just a few paragraphs back. Equally fatal to the construction of this anecdote, I had sneakers on - sneakers surely being to anyone who happens to be the Fastest Boy Runner in the World almost exactly what red shoes were to Hans Christian Andersen's little girl. Once I was clear of the building, I was Mercury himself, and broke into a 'terrific' sprint up the long block to Broadway. I took the corner at Broadway on one wheel and kept going, doing the impossible: increasing speed. The drugstore that sold Louis Sherry ice cream, which was Bessie's adamant choice, was three blocks north, at 113th. About halfway there, I tore past the stationery store where we usually bought our newspapers and magazines, but blindly, without noticing any acquaintances or relatives in the vicinity. Then, about a block further on, I picked up the sound of pursuit at my rear, plainly conducted on foot. My first, perhaps typically New Yorkese thought was that the cops were after me - the charge, conceivably, Breaking Speed Records on a Non-School-Zone Street. I strained to get a little more speed out of my body, but it was no use. I felt a hand clutch out at me and grab hold of my sweater just where the winning-team numerals should have been, and, good and scared, I broke my speed with the awkwardness of a gooney bird coming to a stop. My pursuer was, of course, Seymour, and he was looking pretty damned scared himself. 'What's the matter? What happened?' he asked me frantically. He was still holding on to my sweater. I yanked myself loose from his hand and informed him, in the rather scatological idiom of the neighborhood, which I won't record here verbatim, that nothing had happened, nothing was the matter, that I was just running, for cryin' out loud. His relief was prodigious. 'Boy, did you scare me !' he said. 'Wow, were you moving ! I could hardly catch up with you!' We then went along, at a walk, to the drugstore together. Perhaps strangely, perhaps not strangely at all, the morale of the now Second-Fastest Boy Runner in the World had not been very perceptibly lowered. For one thing, I had been outrun by him. Besides, I was extremely busy noticing that he was panting a lot. It was oddly diverting to see him pant.

Louis Sherry was a high end confectioner.
Ice cream, chocolate and jam. I'm not
sure when the business closed. Salinger refers
to his chocolates in Raise High the Roof Beam,
Carpenters. Boo Boo evidently liked
to squish them to see what was inside.
I got this tin of Louis Sherry chocolates (no chocolates inside)
from ebay.

I have no idea what kind of ice cream Bessie would have
wanted. Maybe vanilla? Maybe a couple of different
quarts? They were a large family.

I made peppermint ice cream. This is a favorite
of my family. We make it after Christmas
to recycle the candy canes from our tree.

The recipe comes from an ice cream calendar from
1983. Unfortunately when I was making the
ice cream we were having a heat wave
and it didn't harden up as well as it should
have and the candies weren't distributed perfectly.
For the ice cream:

2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup crushed candy canes
(or peppermint candies)

beat the egg yolks up and
add a bit of milk.
Over Low heat beat the milk and
egg yolks. Add the sugar. Heat
until it covers the back of a spoon.
(I hate it when people say that!!!)
What I mean is don't let it boil
or it will curdle. If you have a thermometer
heat till about 190 F. Immediately
add the heavy cream and take
off the heat. Add half the crushed
candy. Chill thoroughly and make
in an ice cream maker. Just
before its finished churning add the remaining

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Laurie Colwin's Gingerbread

Poor Laurie Colwin. She died way too young.
I believe she is the original blogger. Her cookbooks are
so in the style of a really wonderful posting. They
are personal and friendly and generous.
This recipe is adapted from her recipe for
gingerbread in Home Cooking.

She writes at length about molasses and cane syrup
which she uses to make her's. I use Lyle's Golden syrup.
She also talks about lemon brandy which is
just brandy with lemon peels in it. She uses that
rather than vanilla. I have used it in the past
and it is good.

Here goes:

Cream one stick of sweet butter with 1/2 cup of light or
dark brown sugar. Beat until fluffy and add
1/2 cup of Lyle's Golden syrup.

Beat in 2 eggs.

Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
and one very generous tablespoon of ground ginger.
Add one teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of
ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of ground

Add two teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Add 1/2 cup of buttermilk and turn into a buttered
9 inch tin. I made cupcakes instead this time.
This recipe makes 12.

Bake at 350 F for between 20 and thirty minutes.

I make a plain old buttercream icing.
For this I used a stick of butter
and a little milk, and vanilla and
confectioner's sugar.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pickled Peaches

This blog is my entry for the Putting Up event
sponsored by Pixie ofYou Say Tomato I say Tomato.

This blog is dedicated to my stepfather Ed who is dead now.
He was probably the kindest person I've ever known.
He was infinitely generous, open hearted, compassionate
and while he could see bad in people he never looked for it.
He also believed in fruit and having it in abundance.
He bought a condo at the beach in Delaware so that
his stepchildren could go there every summer. He
would take us out to pick blueberries and blackberries
and always peaches. And he wouldn't just get a few
we would pick tons of them. I had so many I could easily
afford 8 pounds needed to make pickled peaches.
This jar is from the last time we went picking
with Ed before he died. I've had them for a couple
of years and probably they are too old to eat
but I like having them around to think of what a wonderful
person I was so lucky to know.

Here's the recipe:

Pickled peaches

8 pounds medium sized peaches (I prefer freestone, they give the
preserves a rosy tone)
2 tablespoons whole cloves
4 twi-inch pieces stick cinnamon
2 pounds sugar
1 quart white vinegar

Wash and peel peaches, leaving them whole.
For those of you who don't know, the easiest
way to peel a peach is to drop it in boiling water
for a few seconds, then in cold. The skins just
peel off. Takes spices, sugar and vinegar
and boil together for 10 minutes. Add the peaches,
cook slowly until tender. Don't overdo that part.
They should be just tender. Let stand overnight.
Next day, drain syrup. Boil syrup
till thickened. Put the peaches in sterilized
quart jars and pour over the hot syrup.
Seal. Process for 10 minutes. That means put them
in a big pan covered with an inch of water
and boil for 10 solid minutes.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pearl Balls

I think this dish is very popular with children.

This dish features dried shiitaki mushrooms. They are the what
gives the meat balls their good flavor.

This recipe comes from the Time Life Chinese Cooking.

1/2 cup glutinous (sweet rice) I use twice the amount maybe even more
because I like my rice balls to be all fluffy.
4 dried chinese mushrooms
1 pound lean boneless pork, finely ground
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon finely chopped, peeled fresh
ginger root
6 canned water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 scallion, including the green top, finely chopped

I usually chop up a whole piece of pork in
my food processor. I also chop up all the other
ingredients in the food processor.

Soak the rice covered in water for at least 2 hours.
Soak the mushrooms with hot water for 30 minutes.
Drain them. Chop them up. You can get rid
of the stem if its too tough. Combine all the ingredients.
Drain the rice, put on a paper towel.
Form the meat mixture into balls and roll in the rice.

You need a big chinese style bamboo steamer.
Rinse out a paper towel and line the bottom of the steamer.
Put the balls in the steamer. Place the steamer over
a large pot of boiling water and steam for 30 minutes.

I serve them with little bowls of dipping sauce
made of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.

Here' the finished product.

Pork on a skewer

[whb-two-year-icon.jpg]This is my first shot at weekend herb blogging. This weeks
host is The Well Seasoned Cook. The
herb involved in this dish the bay leaf and lots of them. I'd
like to put in my 2 cents involving buying herbs.
I don't know why bay leaves cost something
like $5 for a tiny bottle. If you go to go a
supermarket that has hispanic foods go to that
section and you can get two huge containers
for half of what you normally spend.
Its a very easy dish to fix and has a mixture of very savory flavors.
The recipe comes from
Italian Cooking
by Mary Reynolds.

1 pound pork tenderloin
2-3 slices firm bread 1/2 inch thick (I get a baguette and slice it up)
1/4 pound prosciutto
Bay leaves
olive oil
salt a pepper

Cut the pork into 12 cubes. The recipe calls to cut off the
crust on the bread but I don't. Thread the skewers
as follows 1 piece bread, 1 piece prosciutto, a bay leaf,
a piece of pork another bay leaf. Repeat.
I don't really count anything. I just get as much
pork as needed and divide it up for as many
as I'm serving.

Anyhow, put the skewers on a well oiled
flat baking tin. Salt and pepper them and then
drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 for
30 to 40 minutes, turning once during the
baking. And that's it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pineapple and Violet Sweet Rolls

I saw an allusion to some bread with violets and pineapple
on a blog somewhere. It may have been
Chocolate & Zuchinni. But I was looking
at the gorgeous Un Dimanche a la Campange
and she was referring to sucre parfume a la violette de
chez Lilo. Lilo has a picture of Hawaiian beignets.
That got me thinking of making something
with pineapple and violets. I've always been
mad for violets. My daughter brought me
back some violet syrup from France. I thought
I'd use that in the icing.

I wanted to make a kind of fritter with a whole
pineapple ring and then crush some candied
violets on top. But my son likes sweet rolls
so I used the hot cross bun recipe minus
the spices and stuffed them
with chunks of pineapple. I used the
violet syrup instead of the lemon juice
to make the icing.
I don't really like sweet rolls but I think this
came out pretty well. I'm going to continue
to experiment with the combination of
violet and pineapple. I'm thinking maybe
dried pineapple. But the cooked pineapple
reminds me of pineapple upside down cake.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Blogging By Mail Goodies

I was scratching my head and wondering what to blog
about this weekend. I went out to get my mail and
guess what??? I received a wonderful package
from England all full of goodies. This is
my first experience of Blogging by Mail.
Its run by Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness.
I have to say its a wonderful thing to do.

The goodies come from Pixie of You Say Tomato... I say Tomato
And here's what I got:
Cupcake papers
Tea Towels (I totally needed them)
Chocolate scented candle
Star Anise (Check out my tea eggs posting)
Vanilla Beans (I would die without them)
Lots of interesting English Candy that I've never had before
like Flying Saucers, Poppets toffee, Dipper Licker (when I was
a kid that was my most favorite sort of thing), some chocolate
A whole lot of different kinds of tea
Some mustard, marmelade and preserves.

I hope I didn't leave anything out.

Several nice recipes including one for Maltese Pizza which
I am so going to try because anchovies are involved.

Anyhow, I am so pleased.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Homage to Ta Ta Part One

This is a recipe from my grandmother Ta Ta.

It reads:

Ta Ta's Pimento Cheese

Brand I like Dunbars Cal-Sun sliced or diced
I suggest for birst batch use 2 4 oz jars.
Using a shallow dish, drain pimentos,
use for to mash them then add:
about 5 oz of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 hard boiled egg chopped
grated onion to your liking
little salt/pepper
enough mayonaise (I like Hellman's) to make
spreadable on bread.
And that's it!
I prefer grating cheese where the holes on grater
are smallest, but to save time use the
coarser part of the grater

I am fortunate enough to have most of
my grandmother's kitchenware. Here is her
little corning ware bowl and her sandwich spreader.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This One Takes the Cake

This is my first Daring Bakers effort.

So far so good. I was a bit pressed for time

when I made it. Also, a good cause

I know asked for baked items they

needed for a function. And it was

the day before Easter. So I thought

I'd kill two birds. This is supposed to

be a lamb.

Please don't laugh too hard!!!

This truly takes the cake!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I believe there are two types of people.
Sweet people and savory people.
I'm a savory person and this
dish is the definition of savory.


1 recipe of pizza dough
(I use 1 package of active dry yeast, 1 teaspoon
salt, 1 cup of warm water and about 3 cups of flour)
100 g. creme fraiche
100 g. sour cream
100 g. quark (its a kind of German yogurt)
1/2 lb. bacon
2-3 chopped onions
Heat the oven up to 450 F.
A hot oven is a must.
Spread dough out thinly on an oiled
baking sheet.
Mix creme fraiche, sour cream and quark
add pepper to taste.
Spead on the dough. Sprinkle onions on top.
Chop bacon into thin strips and put on top.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!!! Hot Cross Buns

It didn't really feel like Easter this year because it was so early.
I read in the paper that it hasn't been this early since 1913.
Anyhow, Easter isn't Easter without hot cross buns.

This recipe comes from The Chesapeake Bay Cookbook by John Shields

1 cup milk 1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups flour
1 cup raisins or dried currants (currants are better)
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water

Scald milk and add sugar and butter.
Heat until butter is melted and transfer
to a large bowl. Dissolve yeast in water and let
stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add to milk.
Beat in the eggs.

Sift together spices, salt, and flour.
Beat into liquid ingredients, 1 cup at a time,
until a soft dough is formed. While beating sprinkle
in currents and lemon rind.

Turn out onto floured board and knead briefly
1 to 2 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl,
cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place
until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Turn out onto floured board and knead briefly,
1 to 2 minutes. Return to oiled bowl, cover,
and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Shape dough into biscuits
(make 24) and arrange on buttered baking sheet.
(I use parchment paper and skip the buttering.)
Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Mix together
yoke and water and brush on buns.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes till golden brown.

For the icing I use about 1 1/2 cups
confections sugar. Juice of half a lemon
and 1 egg white. Mix it all together.
When the buns are fairly cool
make crosses on the buns.

Here's a little Easter tea party. I used rose petal
from Republic of Tea. Very fragrant with
loads of rosebuds in it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Portrait of a Lady

This is my entry for Novel Food.
Its a little scene between Ralph Touchet and
Isabel Archer in the The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James.

"There's no reason we shouldn't stay here--if you don't dislike it. It's very warm; there will he half an hour yet before dark; and if you permit it I'll light a cigarette."

"You may do what you please," said Isabel, "if you'll amuse me till seven o'clock. I propose at that hour to go back and partake of a simple and solitary repast--two poached eggs and a muffin-- at Pratt's Hotel."

"Mayn't I dine with you?" Ralph asked.

"No, you'll dine at your club."

They had wandered back to their chairs in the centre of the square again, and Ralph had lighted his cigarette. It would have given him extreme pleasure to be present in person at the modest little feast she had sketched; but in default of this he liked even being forbidden. For the moment, however, he liked immensely being alone with her, in the thickening dusk, in the centre of the multitudinous town; it made her seem to depend upon him and to be in his power. This power he could exert but vaguely; the best exercise of it was to accept her decisions submissively which indeed there was already an emotion in doing. "Why won't you let me dine with you?" he demanded after a pause.

"Because I don't care for it."

"I suppose you're tired of me."

"I shall be an hour hence. You see I have the gift of foreknowledge."

"Oh, I shall be delightful meanwhile," said Ralph.

I don't think that Isabel Archer ever got to eat this little meal.
I think Caspar Goodwood showed up and ruined her evening.

However, I did try to make some muffins for her.
This recipe comes from Joan Clibbon's Cooking the British Way

1 lb. plain flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 oz. yeast (I use a packet of the dry yeast) 1 teaspoon sugar 1/2 pint warm water (please remember a British pint is 20 oz.) Sieve flour and salt. Cream yeast with sugar and a little water. Mix flour with yeast mixture and 1/2 pint warm water to a rather slack dough. Cover and prove for 2 hours. Divide into eight portions, shape into round balls and leave to prove on a floured board for 20 minutes. Cook on a greased hotplate or girdle, for about 7 minutes on each side.

Some people can still remember the pre-war London Muffin Man who would tour the streets in the afternoons with a large tray of muffins on his head, and ringing a bell to announce his wares. This popular character has long since disappeared, but there is nothing to prevent your enjoying your own home-made toasted muffins, spread with plenty of butter.

I love it when I get to use my cool scale and weights.

Here they are proving.

Here they are on the "girdle". I found it hard to control the heat.
And they sort of blobbed up a bit.

I couldn't complete the meal for Isabel because I can't really poach eggs.
So I decided to make her some Lady Grey tea. The little blue specks
in the tea are dried cornflowers. I highly recommend this tea.
It smells wonderful.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What I got for my Birthday

Beautiful delicious macarons.

Aztec hot chocolate from Mariebelle. This stuff is just shards
of chocolate that you mix with hot water. It is unbelievably rich.
Its like drinking a dark chocolate candy bar.

A lovely orange scented candle from Molton Brown. And a sweet Gerbera daisy

A Teaposy tea pot with flower bombs.
You pour boiling water on them and
they flare up into a fantastic under tea bouquet.

A yummy box of Belgian choclates.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chicken Tetrazzini

In this blog you get to meet Blizzard!!!
He is my beautiful Samoyed. He loves my

This is one of those recipes that have
very few ingredients but come together
to make something more than the sum
of their parts.

This recipe comes from the Gourmet Cookbook Volume I.

Take two young chickens about 3 pounds each. Quarter them.
Put them in a large kettle and cover with boiling water.
Simmer them gently until the meat is tender. After
the chickens have begun to simmer, salt the water
a little. let the chickens cool in the broth and then
cut the meat into fine strips. Return the bones
and skn to the broth and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer
until only two cups remain (I have yet to do this. I find
that I have way more broth than this and it can
be put to good use in other things.)

Slice very thinly 1/2 pound mushrooms. Saute them
in 3 tablespoons butter over low heat until they
are soft and slightly browned.

Cook 1 pound spaghetti until it is tender.

In a saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter
and blend in 3 tablespoons flour. Stir in gradually
the reserved broth, stirring until it is smooth and thickened.

Stir in 1 cup heavy cream and 3 tablespoons Sherry.
(I use medium Sherry). Add salt, pepper, and nutmet to taste
and cook over low heat 10 minutes. Mix half the sauce
with the mushrooms and the spaghetti and
pour into a generously buttered baking dish. Mix the
remaining sauce with the strips of chicken and
1/2 cup sliced truffles (I have yet to add truffles.)
Make a hole in the center of the spaghetti mixture
and pour into it the chicken mixture. Sprinkle the top
with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Bake in moderate
oven (350F) till the cheese is browned. I usually cook
it for a half hour.

Chicken with Peanut Sauce

This is a Mexican dish. It takes a bit of time to make but is well
worth the effort. Sometimes we make it and leave out the
chicken because the sauce is so good. There are layers
and layers of flavor each one better than the next.
You'll need a baguette to go with this. The recipe is from
Food and Wine April 2000.

2 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
boiling water
1 cup raw peanuts, shelled & skinned
(once I used dry roasted, I washed them off and didn't pan roast them)
2 large tomatoes, coarsley chopped
1 hard roll, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, coarsley chopped
2 canned chipotle chiles in Adobo
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 3 1/2 lb chicken cut in 8 pieces (we use boneless chicken breasts!!!!!)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons red wne vinegar

Soak ancho chiles in boiling water
till softened (15 minutes). Meanwhile in a large
deep skillet, toast the peanuts over moderately
low heat, stirring constantly, until golden
(15 minutes) Put on a plate and cool.
Drain anchos and put in food processor.
Add peanuts, tomatoes, hard roll, onion,
chipotles, garlic and sugar. Puree until smooth.

Combine cinnamon and salt and sprinkle over
chicken. Heat the oil in skillet. Brown the chicken
till golden about 6 minutes per side. Put on a plate.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the
skillet. Add the peanut sauce and cook over moderate heat,
stirring constantly, until very thick (15 minutes) . Don't
skimp on the time, I think
this is the most important step.
Add chicken stock, wine, and vinegar and
bring to a simmer. Nestle the pieces of chicken
in the sauce and simmer over moderately low heat,
turning occasionaly, until cooked through (25 minutes).
I actually cook it a lot longer until it becomes
very tender.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tea Eggs

These eggs have a lovely frangrance and a subtle taste.

The recipe comes from Irene Kuo's The Key to Chinese Cooking.

2 dozen small eggs
4 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 whole star anise
4 black-tea bags or 4 teaspoons loose black tea

Rise the eggs in cold water carefully to remove
any blemishes. To prevent cracking, puncture the wider
end of the eggs with a straight pin.
Bring 6 cups water to a boil, turn down the
heat to maintain a slow simmering, and lower the eggs into
the water with a spoon Simmer them about 5 minutes.
Place the pot under a running cold faucet
until the pot is full of cold water.
Soak the eggs in the cold water for a minute, then tap
each of them lightly with the back of a spoon
until they are covered with a network of fine cracks.

Put the eggs back in the pot and pour enough cold water
over them to cover. Add the seasonings and bring to a
slow boil over medium heat; adjust the heat to maintain
a very gentle simmering, then cover
and simmer around 2 hours. Remove the spices.
Let them soak in the brine in the fridge till
you are ready to use them.

This is the tea I used because like they say "good tea
tastes better."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rice Pudding

This rice pudding is actually my own invention.
I had the day off and was fooling around and was
trying to think of frugal ways of using what I had on hand.

One thing I've had on hand forever is a bunch of
preserved cherry leaves. I can't even remember
how long I've had them. I needed them for something
and can't remember what. So I took 4 cups of milk,
1/2 cup of sushi rice, 2 preserved cherry leaves and put
them in a double boiler. I cooked it for about an hour.
The results were a very creamy, subtly flavored and
nicely scented pudding. I chopped up some almonds for decoration.


This recipe is based on Ruth Reichel's The Gourmet Cookbook
6 cups of rolled oats
2 cups unsalted cashews
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 cups chopped up dried apricots
1 cup dried cranberries

Mix the oats, nuts, salt, oil and maple syrup together.
Divide mixture between two parchment paper lined
cookie sheets. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
After the first fifteen minutes, stir each tray and
switch positions in the oven.
When cooked add the apricots and cranberries.
I store it in a large tin and it keeps pretty well.